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29 Iowa organizations receive Wellmark Foundation Small MATCH grants

The Wellmark Foundation has notified 29 Iowa organizations they will receive Matching Assets to Community Health (MATCH) grants. The grantees are planning projects that can help individuals, families and communities achieve better health through built environment initiatives that encourage physical activity or access to nutritious foods.

"The Wellmark Foundation Small MATCH grant winners are truly being creative in how each is promoting health in their communities," said Mary Lawyer, The Wellmark Foundation executive director. "From new swimming pools to trail enhancements to greenhouses and backyard garden creation, these projects will impact the quality of life and the overall well-being of Iowans for generations to come."

In total The Wellmark Foundation is investing $674,664 into Iowa communities through the 2021 Small MATCH grant program. To ensure community support for these projects, final funding is contingent upon organizations securing 50 percent of the grant award. The required match may be a combination of in-kind donations or services and cash. Organizations have until Nov. 3 to secure their matching funds.

The organizations selected to receive a Wellmark Foundation 2021 Small MATCH grant include:

Catherine McAuley Center, $25,000
Improving food security & building healthy eating, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
The Catherine McAuley Center will implement programming to provide individuals with the knowledge and skills to be self-sufficient in maintaining healthy eating habits. The existing food pantry, community garden, learning kitchen and children’s learning center will be used for demonstrations and hands-on learning so that individuals can acquire the skills needed for healthy food preparation, serving and storage. The center will also work with local food and nutrition experts to offer programming that incorporates diverse and culturally appropriate food choices and cooking techniques.

City of Cedar Rapids, $25,000
Playground at Bever Park
The Parks and Recreation Department will use grant funds to update 20-year old playground equipment in the 91-acre, highly used Bever Park. Planned updates include a separate play structure for children ages two to five and another structure geared toward kids ages five to 12. The playground will also be universally accessible, exceeding ADA requirements.

City of Dallas Center, $23,027
Accessible Pathways Project
The Accessible Pathways project will replace an uneven 1.2-mile dirt walking path with an ADA-compliant, eight- foot-wide concrete trail around the perimeter of the Burnett Recreational Complex in Dallas Center, Iowa. The Burnett Recreational Complex is home to the city's baseball, softball, and soccer fields and is used by local organizations and the Dallas Center-Grimes Community School District. The Burnett walking path also provides a safe recreational space for extracurricular clubs at the elementary and middle schools, as well as for residents and staff of Dallas Center's older adult retirement community and skilled nursing facility.

City of DeWitt, $25,000
Outdoor Pickleball Courts
The DeWitt Pickleball Club is undertaking a project to construct six outdoor public pickleball courts on a parcel of land currently owned by the City of DeWitt, Iowa. This project will include engineering and land preparation, concrete court decking with acrylic surfacing, gates, fencing with windscreens, lighting for evening play and security, and benches.

City of Epworth, $25,000
Splash Pad
The proposed splash pad is a zero depth aquatic play area that encourages physical, functional and social development, gives hours of endless fun, encourages team and interactive play, and stimulates and challenges all ages and abilities. The splash pad will provide a recreational amenity that will serve Epworth and the surrounding community with design elements for toddlers, teens, and families.

City of Keota, $25,000
Municipal Pool Replacement Project
The City of Keota is replacing its existing pool with a new L-shaped structure that is slightly larger and includes a descending step entry and chair lift to accommodate people of all ages and abilities. The pool will also include swimlanes to allow for swim team competitions. The heated pool will now offer a safe place for community members to stay active beyond the summer months.

City of Lansing, $25,000
Lansing Trails Expansion & Promotion Project
The Lansing Park & Recreation Department will utilize grant funds to develop a wayfinding signage master plan. The plan will establish brand design standards as well as identify the dimensions and locations of signage types needed to help community members more easily and safely navigate the Lansing Park System. The parks system is a year-round, outdoor recreation resource for the region, boasting over 113 acres of park land, including woodlands, prairies, access to the Mississippi River, eight miles of soft trails, baseball diamonds, playgrounds, shelters, and scenic overlooks.

City of Madrid, $10,000
Edgewood Park — Toddler Expansion
The City of Madrid is expanding its park services to include a dedicated toddler play area. Grant funds will be used to secure and install two pieces of equipment that are age appropriate and meet ADA guidelines.

City of Manson, $25,000
Manson Youth Sports Complex
The Manson Youth Sports Complex project consists of relocating two youth baseball fields and two youth soccer fields to a space adjacent to the Manson Area Community Center. Upon completion of the project, this new space will be the Manson Youth Sports Complex and will provide a dedicated space for youth to play, as the current fields are often used for overflow vehicle parking and are not desirable for recreational use.

City of Mason City, $25,000
Willow Creek Riverwalk
The goal of this project is to create functional, inviting spaces along Willow Creek that incorporate and highlight the natural environment. Mason City wants to highlight this natural gateway into the city by creating an accessible walkway and safe public space that connects residents and visitors to the expanding amenities downtown.

City of Pocahontas, $25,000
Elbert Park Improvement Project — Phase II
The Elbert Park Improvement Project is a collaborative effort among the Pocahontas Chamber of Commerce, Pocahontas Hometown Pride Committee, and City of Pocahontas, to improve the entire park area and its trail extensions to the community trail system. The next phase of the project will better connect the amenities at the park to make them more accessible and inclusive. To do so, the group will create a walking trail that connects Elbert Park to Princess Park and Rosenberger Park.

City of Polk City, $25,000
Lost Lakes Park — Phase II Development
The City of Polk City is planning to construct Phase II of the Lost Lakes Park development project. This phase will be the final phase of the project. It consists of installation of playground equipment, safety surfacing, landscaping, and a sidewalk connection to an adjacent neighborhood.

City of Preston, $25,000
Westside Park Obstacle & Fitness Course
The City of Preston is installing a FitCore® course that will include 15 pieces of equipment that promotes strength and agility in Preston's Westside Park. The park is located two blocks from Easton Valley Community School District's junior and senior high school building, which will provide students the opportunity to utilize the course for both recreation and athletic training.

City of Sloan, $25,000
City Park Trail Head
As part of its Comprehensive Plan, the City of Sloan will update its city park and create ADA-compliant walking trails to connect all areas of the city. Currently, the city lacks accessibility as the current system forces walkers to walk in the street as there is not an adequate sidewalk system, which is dangerous for motorists and walkers alike. The new trail system will solve this issue.

City of St. Charles, $25,000
Basketball and Pickleball Court
The City of St. Charles plans to rehabilitate and renovate their current basketball court surface area and add a pickleball court. The pickleball court will have eight feet of fencing around it to keep games moving along. The courts will also have acrylic color-coating and lines that will give them a wow factor and will increase their longevity.

City of Tipton, $25,000
4th Street Plaza Pocket Park
The City of Tipton will create a pocket park with grant funds. The concept includes a splashpad, walkway, shade structure, benches and food court location. The 4th Street Plaza Pocket Park will provide a wonderful gathering location and recreational space in the community that currently is not being utilized. The pocket park project is part of the original downtown revitalization project started by the City of Tipton in 2008 and includes input from a citizen-based committee.

Des Moines Area MPO, $24,575
MPO Permanent Trail Counter Program
The MPO has developed a permanent trail counter program to provide trail use information to communities that have invested in building trails that provide a tremendous amenity to locals and tourists alike. The MPO's Permanent Trail Counter Program will establish at least one permanent counter in each of the eight primary Level 1 corridors in the region. The counters will take counts around the clock, under all weather conditions and remotely transmit trail usage data every day. The counters are able to distinguish between bicyclists and pedestrians and can accurately count large groups. This data will help guide programming and decision making to successfully address community needs and improve quality of life.

Diagonal Community Development Corporation, $25,000
Diagonal Walkable Community Initiative
This initiative will provide community-wide access to safe walking routes that connect to the city's recreational amenities. The project includes sidewalks to and from Diagonal Community School, a loop for recreational walking/running, and a connection to the City Park and Fogle Recreation Area. This project will increase community health, mobility, and social interaction as well as increase pedestrian safety.

FoodCorps Iowa, $22,000
Connecting Kids in Des Moines to Healthy Food in Schools
FoodCorps Iowa’s trained AmeriCorps members will use grant funds to deliver evidence-backed programs to grades K – 5 that get kids eating healthy. As part of the curriculum in schools, FoodCorps Iowa collaborates with the Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach to engage kids with place-based nutrition education, incorporating a state SNAP-Ed program called Pick a Better Snack, which includes experiential learning, physical activity, opportunities to taste monthly featured fruits or vegetables, and more.

Forest Avenue Outreach, $15,062
Community Orchard & Garden — Accessible Entrance & Outdoor Classroom, Des Moines
This project will increase access and visibility to the Forest Avenue Community Orchard and Garden that includes 20 fruit trees, perennial berry bushes, two prairie plots, and 32 raised garden beds. Grant funds will be used to stabilize a steep embankment with a retaining wall and accessible stairs, welcoming neighborhood residents to participate in all offerings. The project will also create an outdoor classroom with a pergola featuring youth-designed artistic shade elements.

Glenwood Rams Parent Teacher Association, $25,000
NE Elementary Inclusive Playground Project
The goal of the playground project is to create a safe place where all kids can experience play, enhance growth and development, where limitations are forgotten and differences are celebrated. The PTA plans to create this by adding new interactive equipment, specialized equipment designed to enhance physical activity for students of all mobility levels and solid surfacing access points. This new playground will be the only one within the Glenwood community that has ADA-accessible surfacing and equipment.

Mahaska FutureView, $25,000
Edmundson Playground Project
This community project will create a new play space in Oskaloosa's Edmundson Park, a 60 acre park that offers a public swimming pool, disc golf, a pond for fishing, a dog park, ball diamonds, shelters, and a connection to a 15- mile citywide recreation trail. The new playground will be accessible to individuals with developmental, mobility or other concerns and has been designed to be inclusive for all children from six months in age to 12 years.

Metro High School, $25,000
STEAM Grown Education
In 2021–2022 Metro High School will design and build a greenhouse to support nutrition, science, and agriculture education for the entire building. Produce from the garden will be used throughout the year to feed at-risk populations in the community as well as students and their families. STEAM students will regularly utilize the greenhouse for their projects. It will serve as a cross-curricular learning space, a farm-to-table nutrition/health program, an entrepreneurship outlet, and a culinary arts workforce development. STEAM students will also build in a storefront where produce will be offered to the community for at-will donations.

North Cedar Community School District, $25,000
Mechanicsville Memorial Walking Trail
The school districit will use grant funds to create a half mile walking trail surrounding the elementary school building and city ballpark. This trail will also provide a place for students to walk when their playground is not accessible due to weather conditions and for social-emotional regulation needs during the school day. It will also be available to all community members so they can safely walk, run, or play.

River Bend Food Bank, $25,000
Expanding to Shrink the Gap, Davenport, Iowa
This project expands River Bend Food Bank's physical capacity to safely store, manage, and distribute millions of pounds of nutritious food to tens of thousands of food insecure Iowans through its 300 partner agencies. The effort will add physical space for people and products; expand programmatic capacity to serve significantly more meals each year; and exceed best practices standards.

The Fairfield Parks and Recreation Foundation of Jefferson County, Iowa, $25,000
The Fairfield Loop Trail Surface Upgrade
This project will upgrade five miles of a heavily used section of the Fairfield Loop Trail. It will also restore the 10-foot trail width and freshen up the trail surface with two inches of limestone chips. The 16-mile long trail encircles Fairfield.

University of Northern Iowa Foundation, $5,000
A Garden in Every Lot, Cedar Falls and Waterloo, Iowa
Organizers plan to install 200 backyard gardens over the next year as part of the new A Garden in Every Lot initiative. Grant funds will defray the cost of purchasing a storage shed and to purchase inventory for a tool library for program staff and participants. A Garden in Every Lot is an initiative of the UNI Center for Energy & Environmental Education. It seeks to support and develop a culture of backyard gardening in the Cedar Valley by helping both individuals and community organizations overcome barriers to starting a garden through site assessment and preparation; providing seeds, plant starts and mulch; negotiating with local landlords and governmental bodies; and coordinating gardening-focused educational programs and events.

Wesley Retirement Services Inc., $25,000
Halcyon House Pickleball & Community Garden Project, Washington, Iowa
Halcyon House plans to build an outdoor recreation area and community garden on the west side of its campus in Washington, Iowa. When completed, this new area will include three pickleball courts, a community garden consisting of 24 raised beds, an outdoor seating area and various trees and landscaping to protect individuals from the heat of the sun during the warm, summer months. The space be used by residents of Halcyon House, members of the community, and students from Washington High School.

Winneshiek County Conservation Board, $25,000
Dry Run Trail — Decorah to the Greenbelt
This project will construct a new walking/biking trail bridge over Dry Run Creek. In addition to being a significant component of the trail, the bridge will immediately provide access from Decorah and the Trout Run Trail to over 100 acres of new public land in the Dry Run Greenbelt. This area includes hardwood forest, oak savanna, and prairie remnants that harbor 284 plants and animals. Dry Run Greenbelt also boasts hidden springs, waterfalls, limestone bluffs, Dry Run Creek, and other natural treasures for children and families to explore.

Since 1991, The Wellmark Foundation has provided more than $36.6 million in grant funding to communities across Iowa and South Dakota. View previous Wellmark Foundation MATCH grant recipients.